Animals, artists have history

Since early man began drawing images of animals on cave walls, animals have been irresistible subjects to artists.

Visit the Egyptian exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art and you can see images of animals decorating amazing antiquities. Not only were cats popular pets in ancient Egypt, they were considered sacred. The feline goddess Bastet was regarded as a protector and was depicted in numerous sculptures.

Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”

Writer Ernest Hemingway loved cats and shared his home with 30 of them. The descendants of his polydactyl cats still occupy his Key West home, drawing thousands of visitors. Post-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard included cats in many of his works and Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1881 Chat Noir poster is still widely reproduced.

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edith Wharton, famous for the quote, “My little dog — a heartbeat at my feet,” was a dog lover extraordinaire. Author Mark Twain loved dogs and cats and is known for his pithy quotes about their virtues, including “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Animals continue to inspire creative people today, so presenting an exhibit of works by local artists depicting animals as part of Artown was a natural.

“I love animals’ energy, interaction, and loyalty,” said Natacha Sperka. “I started doing portraits of my dogs when I realized that I couldn’t keep them forever and wanted to immortalize them. While capturing their expression on the canvas, it led to another path — the perception of their personality and the canvas becomes alive,”

“When we started CockadoodleMoo Farm Sanctuary, I decided to paint the animals. My main idea was to capture the ‘person’ inside the individual animal,” said Dianne Robison. “If you spend time with a goat like Festus, you realize that he can be silly but there is a majestic side to him. Each animal has a story, and I am hoping that my paintings open doors for others to see who they are.”

Sperka and Robison are three of the 20 artists who will be exhibiting their creations at the July 9 Pawspective Art Show at Nevada Humane Society. While the works differ by medium and style, the passion for animals shines through each one.

You won’t want to miss it.

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